ELIZABETH, NJ – Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy came to the Snyder Academy on Broad Street Feb.28 to address a standing room only crowd at a Town Hall meeting.

Sheriff Joseph Cryan, who is also running for state senator, introduced Murphy as “Not a Jersey born and bred guy, but he understands Jersey values.”

Noting the crowd and the 6,000 people on the phone, Murphy declared, “This says less about me and more about that people are mad as heck. They are sick of Chris Christie and can’t believe Trump got elected.”

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Later in the Town Hall, Murphy remarked, “We need a change in leadership, a leader that knows about governing, who wants to govern. There is something to be said about a governor who shows up.”

Referring to issues that currently have caused widespread protests such as discrimination, anti-Semitism, transgender issues and dismantling healthcare, he said, “We will not stand for it.”

Murphy’s first priority would be to get the state back on its economic feet. “The state has been left behind economically. If we don’t get the economy right, we won’t get New Jersey right.”

Pointing to two industries that were formerly “big engines” in the state, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) innovation and infrastructure, he said the foundations for re-vitalizing those sectors are here. “We were the Silicon Valley before there was a Silicon Valley. We have to grow the pie by growing those economies. I believe we can.”

He supports a $15 minimum wage, a caregiver tax credit to help those caring for a sick relative, an incentive for small businesses that start up in struggling neighborhoods and equal pay for equal work. “A white woman in New Jersey earns less than 80 percent of what a man makes for the same job, a black woman less than 60 percent, and a Latina less than 50 percent.”

He proposes legislation that would make it illegal for a potential employer to ask  job applicants' salary in their previous job. Because job offers are often based on candidates’ existing salaries, “Some women can never climb out of poverty that way.”

Another issue he proposed is to create a program to rid schools and homes of lead by replacing pipes, cleaning out lead paint, and reaching out to families to inform them about lead risks.

In a question and answer section, Murphy voiced support for gun control, pledging to fight federal laws that would gut New Jersey’s tight regulations.

A question from a teacher about pensions got this response, “The state must step up and meet its obligations. A deal will be a deal.”

Murphy also expressed support for educational opportunities other than college. “It is in everyone’s interest that we get the vocational/technical track.”  

President Trump’s travel ban and immigration policies were another area of concern. In response, Murphy said, “It is un-American. We have to stand up and defend, defend, defend.”

In a letter later sent to TAPinto Elizabeth, Murphy expanded on his comments. “I have pledged that I will not enforce his executive orders that are clearly unconstitutional and un-American.  I will not participate in mass deportations, and I will appoint an Attorney General who will join other progressive states in challenging this administration in court, and defending our cities and counties that exercise their legal rights by refusing to enforce federal immigration law.  And I will create a statewide Office of Immigrant Protection that will provide legal services to any New Jersey resident facing detention or deportation who cannot afford legal representation.”

Further in the letter, Murphy reiterated his stance on a variety of issues, “There are a number of other issues where the Trump Administration threatens to roll back the clock, and we must stand up to their efforts.  On health care, I will vigorously speak out in defense of the ACA (Affordable Care Act), which has helped hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans obtain health insurance, and I will oppose any attempts to block grant Medicaid. While Trump calls climate change a hoax created by the Chinese, I will ensure that New Jersey once again is a leader in combating this existential crisis and building a green economy. And if Trump and Republicans in Congress roll back enforcement of workplace protections, I will do everything possible at the state level to make it easier for workers to organize and crack down on employers who game the system.”